On March 12, 2013, Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen announced that a coalition of 38 states had entered into a $7 million settlement with Google Inc. (“Google”) regarding its collection of unsecured Wi-Fi data via the company’s Street View vehicles between 2008 and 2010. The settlement is the culmination of a multi-year investigation by the states that we first reported on in 2010.
In addition to the $7 million payment that will be apportioned between the various states, Google entered into an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance that acknowledges the privacy program the company is developing and requires the company to delete any previously collected Wi-Fi data. In the future, Google may only collect data with the notice and consent of individuals. The Assurance of Voluntary Compliance also requires Google to design a public service campaign about wireless network security that must include: (1) a YouTube video that instructs users on how to encrypt their wireless networks, (2) a blog post on the Google Public Policy Blog explaining the importance of doing so, (3) educational advertisements in a nationally circulated newspaper as well as in the newspaper with the greatest circulation in each state, (4) an educational pamphlet about online safety and privacy, and (5) daily online ads that promote the YouTube instructional video.
In announcing the settlement, Attorney General Jepsen praised Google’s good faith efforts in working with his office on consumer privacy issues and stated that the settlement “ensures that Google will not use similar tactics in the future to collect personal information without permission from unsuspecting consumers.”